TALLINN - At an EU defense ministers' meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, Estonian Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur underscored that supporting Ukraine requires making real decisions, not just discussing the necessity of decisions.
"We are currently in a situation where real decisions need to be made, not just discussions about needing decisions. Estonia has been showing the way -- last Friday, we initiated an expedited procurement process to purchase 280 million euros' worth of 155-millimeter shells. Over the next four years, we will acquire ammunition to the tune of almost 30 percent of our defense budget. This sends a clear message to the defense industry -- feel free to ramp up production," Pevkur said.
The defense ministers also received an update on the initiative to send one million shells to Ukraine.
"We have not been able to meet the expectations set this spring. If member states are not ready to supply from their stockpiles or lack the capacity to produce, we must restore and procure ammunition from third countries. Outdated ammunition should not go to waste. Ukraine does not have time to wait. Estonia has contributed from its stockpiles and is ready to give more," Pevkur stated.
"At the same time, the European military aid mission for training the Ukrainian armed forces has effectively fulfilled its objectives so far. Even though the goals are met, there is still room to expand and enhance the training," he added.
In a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, the defense ministers discussed the protection of critical infrastructure.
"Incidents show that critical underwater infrastructure is vulnerable. To deter further attacks and ensure greater security, it's essential to increase situational awareness, and this is an opportunity for cooperation between the European Union and NATO," the Estonian defense minister said.
At the meeting, the defense ministers approved a joint statement highlighting the need to facilitate European production capabilities and strengthen the technological and industrial base of European defense.
"We supported a joint statement that identifies the bottlenecks in defense industry financing and their possible solutions. In other words, solutions on how to provide the defense industry with greater financing opportunities through banks for the necessary investments that would help to quickly increase production capabilities," Pevkur said.